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Foiled Again 04-25-2016 10:44 AM

Financial Justification for an Airstream
(If your first response was bull****, you hit the nail on the head.)

Anyone with a basic grasp of financial reality can absolutely prove that there is no way to financially justify owning an Airstream. Even if you full-time in one (as I do) it's still a depreciating asset - and no matter how much money you pour into maintaining it, you'll only reduce the depreciation fractionally, and you'll never see any increase in value.

A Boat is a hole in the water, surrounded by wood or fiberglass...
...into which you pour money!

An RV is a hole in the atmosphere...
and this one ends exactly the same way! :rolleyes:

So how CAN we really justify WASTING our money on these expensive toys?

The justification is to be part of a genuine FAMILY and sometimes a genuine TRIBE. How many "families" do you know which are no more than a group of people who occupy the same dwelling and yet seem to have nothing in common? And school - which for me was a refuge from a screwed up family? Now students at schools think they are practicing "freedom of speech" by bullying other students sometimes even to death?

The RV community as a whole has a lot of genuinely nice people - and quite a few wannabe's who hopefully can be welcomed and be convinced to drink the cool-aid....

Being an Airstreamer to me simply means taking TIME and FOCUSING on things like companionship, the joy of being helpful now and then, the tall tales told around campfires, the touching sight of a three year old kids "helping" daddy put down the stabilizers and helping mommy put up the screen room... and their parents patiently concealed laughter. It also means claiming victory after changing my own tire, and cramming that wretched 16 inch spare into the 15 inch carrier, and even if I do smell like a goat and look like a fright - Politely thanking a neighbor for offering his torque wrench, and then pulling out my Snap-On tool... so he can put away his Harbor Freight model.

And after I get over that moment of snobbery - telling the truth. I have an Airstream and a few top of the line tools, and YOU have three grandchildren having the time of their lives. Envy? I envy you (NOW!) 15 years ago when you were raising bratty teenagers... whew You paid your dues, and I dodged the bullets.

For me, being an Airstreamer means enjoying the finer things, but really relishing the finer people who participate in the family or tribe or cult. It also means never looking down on anyone with a SOB - if they've got the heart, the Airstream will find them in the fullness of time.

I'm Retiring next month and I can't stop being Pollyanna. Feel like I've been sipping on some really good white wine.

I'm going to stop procrastinating ... tomorrow or the day after.

Carpe Diem! Or seize the Carp for all I care.

This morning I had coffee sitting on the step of Eddie Haskill and I watched the wind blow the last of the blossoms off of the wisteria vines that grow wild here in Virginia. It's a good day to be alive.


Lily&Me 04-25-2016 10:51 AM

Good for you, Paula. :)

Carpe diem, indeed.


BoldAdventure 04-25-2016 11:05 AM

Not to brag but my Airstream purchase cost 11% of my yearly income and was from savings. Cost of ownership is even less. So I think I can justify it since I'm not someone who makes 40K and buys a 38K car.

dkottum 04-25-2016 11:29 AM

Our justification is we travel in it six months a year, have been all over this country and are eyeballing a couple of others nearby. It tows beautifully with our half-ton truck, looks great and never will go out of style, zero problems beyond normal wear. We like it a lot, just got back from Jackson Center for a checkup, replace a water tank I broke, and a few equipment upgrades. Normal maintenance that any home needs.

My only complaints are it is a little too small when camping in rainy weather, and a little too big when maneuvering into some fuel stations, campsites, and parking places. But we have learned to manage both quite well.

As good money as we have spent for retirement. We have looked at condos, park models, small dwellings for a seasonal home. The problem is they are all stuck in one spot on the planet, our Airstream is not.

Hittenstiehl 04-25-2016 11:32 AM

We have two and don't need to justify either at this time nor when I find the third one.

Friends and family all have their own hobby's or vices.

Interestingly enough some people mistakenly associate them with some level of wealth.

We work hard, enjoy life, save, donate, live within our means, treat the kids and grandkids occasionally.

NWGetaways 04-25-2016 11:34 AM

Airstreams make people smile.

mpsgolf 04-25-2016 12:55 PM

My grandmother, who it turns out was very wise, used to say "money is only good for what it will buy."

When I was little I used to think "duh grandma." Clearly I didn't understand. As I grew older I understood just how simple yet wise these words were.

You can't build a financial business case for time spent with your family enjoying nature and our great country. But the "investment" pays priceless dividends in my humble (yet first hand experienced) opinion.

Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Olympic, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands, Badlands, Rushmore - and others and more to come - I doubt we would have experienced all these without our AS and if we had it would have been from a hotel as a passer by.

Have fun and travel often and SAFE.

Monza 04-25-2016 12:55 PM

Buying old and used and renovating to a modern nice standard 'does' increase value.
If you do the labor yourself, IMO you can get what money you put in out again upon resale. (not including your labor costs)
Buying new yes declining value until its old and needs work, but it sure is nice!

I have yet to proof this so my opinion could be a hole in the buttsphere.

PA BAMBI II 04-25-2016 01:04 PM

Well, memories are priceless. And if the real issue is money...

I bought my 1964 Bambi II for $1000...and after five years of pleasurable work, I can confidently bet it is worth 10-15 times what I paid for it.

Small, vintage Airstreams will likely not depreciate.

On the flip side, Dad did lose $$ when he sold his 1985 32' Airstream.

ZBoater 04-25-2016 01:12 PM

An Airstream costs three times what other TT cost which are bigger. In choosing to buy an Airstream, we felt that we didn't want/could not afford to be trading. We wanted to buy one and keep it for 20 years. Airstreams seemed like a good choice for that. Haven't bought one yet but are heavily favoring taking the plunge.

moosetags 04-25-2016 02:49 PM

I don't have to or want to "justify" anything to anyone. I can afford a new Airstream, period. We have enjoyed our dear Lucy immensely. Everyone we meet out there on the road is a fellow RVer. We never look down our nose at someone in an SOB, nor do we look up our nose at a brand new Prevost. We are all campers trying to get the most out of life the way that we see it.


Foiled Again 04-25-2016 03:40 PM

Moose - exactly.

And you CAN have a blast in an "aluminum tent" just as well as in a million dollar Prevost or a brand new 30 foot special edition.

As Protagonist notes, your RV can be a great "bug out" way to run from a Hurricane or other nastiness. And if your financial world collapses, you can keep a small home even if you can't afford brick and mortar.

But most of all it's about using your money wisely - to make your life more satisfying, meaningful and just plain fun.

One evening in the middle of a very serious conversation about religion, one normally matter-of-fact and generally dull person in the group suddenly quipped, "What if the Hokey-Pokey IS what it's all about?"

Dead silence, followed by hilarity. Making the journey memorable is what owning an RV should be.
You put your left foot in,
you put your left foot out,
you put your left foot in and you shake it all about....

streaminwild 04-25-2016 06:20 PM


Originally Posted by moosetags (Post 1781949)
Everyone we meet out there on the road is a fellow RVer. We never look down our nose at someone in an SOB, nor do we look up our nose at a brand new Prevost. We are all campers trying to get the most out of life the way that we see it.


:clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap: Well said moosetags.

kb0zke 04-25-2016 06:53 PM

Our former home turned out to be a depreciating asset, too. We certainly didn't get anywhere near what we had in it, but it provided shelter for us for many years, and our kids learned many things that they may not have learned elsewhere. I've listed our Foretravel for more than we paid for it, but less than what we have in it. We looked at an Airstream that is overpriced. The seller thinks they don't depreciate, yet I had with me ads for several similar coaches that were newer and cheaper, or newer and the same price.

As full-timers we've already learned that we can live more cheaply on the road than we could have back on the farm and we get to see this wonderful country. Once we make the switch to the Airstream I expect that our costs will decrease again.

J. Morgan 04-25-2016 07:57 PM

Financial Justification for an Airstream
I have about 25K hard cash in mine and it has MORE than paid for itself already in money saved on hotel rooms when we are working in New Mexico several months in a given year.

It is one of the better investments I have made, and we are about to head to NM again this week

Beside that, I really enjoyed building it, (my favorite project ever by far) and I enjoy using it.

Superat stultitia.

Steamy1 04-25-2016 08:20 PM

1 Attachment(s)
For the analytical types, the attached is an interesting take on vacation cost comparisons.

SteveSueMac 04-25-2016 08:36 PM

Can you calculate the health benefits of stress relief? Can you quantify the value of the grin you can't wipe off your face when camping? I've done my share of "CBAs" (cost benefit analysis). When the benefits are incalculably high, the analysis is unnecessary. Cost justified. 😀

ijustlee 04-25-2016 10:22 PM

As a mechanic and handyman I can assure people that you will in general get more towing miles over more years than you would with a wood frame trailer. There may be exceptions I don't know about. Also you can take an Airstream apart and put it back together more readily than a SOB. There some things that Airstream does I have doubts about but in general they used quality materials. The main thing I wish the factory had done is waterproof the floor especially the C channel area. A well built RV has been the topic of discussion with myself and other Airstreamers and RV'ers over many portable beverage container emptying sessions. It seems that the best built RV's never stayed in production because people went for couch size or carpet color or something other than structural integrity at a given price point. After a lifetime of RVing I'm still not sure I've seen the perfect RV! What I do know is that you should do what you enjoy now because tomorrow is the futures today. Or as somebody said "Be Here Now".

Len n Jeanne 04-25-2016 11:17 PM

All the best on your retirement, Paula!

We tend to think in terms of psychic dollars. It's hard to put a price tag on them. We bought Bambi I slightly used for Can$35,000. We had just sold a second home (this was 2007) and were feeling flush. We were getting too old for tent camping. A baby Airstream was exactly what we wanted, and we had lots of good times in it.

Had we put that money into another piece of real estate, it would have depreciated drastically in 2008. As it was, Bambi I ended paying for itself because we had got some really good RV insurance on it that paid for the replacement cost of a new 2005 when ours was written off in a traffic accident. So $35,000 in 2007 got us $50,000 in 2015 (less the cost of the insurance,) which was the price of a new 16' International AS in 2005.

Of course, once we decided to upgrade to a 19' 2015 AS, our $50,000 had to be topped up. We also decided that we wanted a V8 truck to tow it, so upgraded our Tacoma to a Tundra. The new truck was the real expense, but the Tundra is sooo comfortable, and tows up those steep mountain grades like a breeze.

So now we're in the poor house, yet somehow feeling we got good value for our money. We spent 8 weeks this past winter on a snowbird trip to the Mojave desert, and always felt smug and snug in our tasteful AS.

Spending less money on an RV we didn't want seems like poor economy compared to spending more money on an RV that we really do want.

switz 04-26-2016 12:00 AM

We will finish the last of all the possible modifications that will make the Airstreams the way we want them this May. We have probably spent too much, but as Paula said, they can function as the home of last resort in a financial melt down like in 2008 (all the signs are reappearing for a repeat performance).

If my wife were to pre-decease me, I would cheerfully sell the real estate homes and abide in the 31' Airstream full-time and follow the sun and heat. After all, it has all the comforts of home!

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